In a year that I have not found myself in trial that often (only one other time), I am happy to report that I heard those words again on Friday – Not Guilty, Not Guilty, Not Guilty, Not Guilty and – Not Guilty. The case involved fish and game violations and my client, an Outfitter whose very life depends on his ability to take paying clients in search of big game, was tried by jury in Challis. After the state concluded its evidence the Judge granted motions for judgment of acquittal on four of five counts. The jury finished the matter up by acquitting on the only remaining charge. Let me share a couple things I learned again from this case:
First – you have to believe in your client and his or her case. A friend of mine says that you can’t ask a jury to do something you won’t do. Translated – if you don’t believe in your case the jury won’t either.
Second – take your time in trial and tell your story. It is all about that story, and if rushed, it may not make it to the jury as you intend it. So slow it down. Let the jury take it in and think about it. Let them spin it and examine it and in the end, the story will be the thing that makes it work.
Third – make sure you know the facts. Know the case better than the other side.
Now – with the year to finish and two more cases headed for trial before years end, I will hunker down and keep reading. The fact that only two of my cases have gone to trial this year is not a bad thing. Some cases were settled under situations that brought value to the clients. Two were dismissed and another two more – felony cases that alleged armed robbery – resulted in a dismissal of the felony counts and pleas to simple misdemeanors. Some years are like that – and next year might result in more or fewer trials.
Have a question about a case? Send a comment or use our contact sheet. Calls this week are not likely going to get returned because I am, again, in trial.